Summerland is one of those places that really does live up to its idyllic name. Sun drenched hills, vineyards and orchards slope towards the shores of immense Okanagan Lake, all backdropped by dramatic volcanic mountains.
Though a four season playground, it’s the particularly long, hot summers that are the main draw. Despite being relatively small, there’s a host of fun and interesting things to do in Summerland in the warmer months.
Living only 15 minutes from Summerland, we find ourselves exploring the area reasonably often.
This post features 40+ of our favourite things to do in Summerland, from hiking the gorgeous Kettle Valley Railway Trail and swimming in Okanagan Lake to touring wineries and picking fresh fruit and more!
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How to get to Summerland, BC
Summerland is a town (pop 12,000) on the west side of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. The city of Penticton is located to the south (15 minutes drive) and Peachland to the north (15 minutes).
The small community of Trout Creek borders Summerland. I’ve included local Trout Creek activities in this post too.
To reach Summerland from Vancouver, you have a choice of two main routes:
- The fastest is the Coquihalla (Highway 5) and then the Okanagan Connector (97C). This approaches Summerland from the north, via Highway 97. Total journey time is 4hr 15 / 400km
- The longer and slower (but quieter) route is along the Crowsnest Highway (3), switching at Keremeos to the 3A and then Highway 97 through Penticton. Total journey time is 4hr 45 / 415km
Personally, I prefer the more leisurely drive of the Crowsnest Highway (second option). E.C. Manning Provincial Park is located just over half way along the route and is an ideal place to stop for a break. Be sure to check out the Cascade Lookout for gorgeous mountain views!
Things to do in Summerland
- Take a walk on the historic Trout Creek trestle. The 73-metre (240 feet) high and 76-metre (249 feet) wooden bridge was once the highest on the Kettle Valley Railway
- Explore the beautiful 6 hectare Summerland Ornamental Gardens (enty by donation, closed until further notice)
- Shop Summerland’s compact yet vibrant downtown – be sure to stop at the Beanery Cafe for a coffee or freshly baked pastry
- Learn more about the origins of Summerland at the Museum and Archives (admission by donation, *temporarily closed)
- Hike along Trout Creek and follow it into a dramatically steep canyon – you can even spot the impressive KVR trestle crossing above!
- Discover Summerland’s creative side at the Arts and Cultural Centre and browse artisan products in the on site shop
- Stay overnight at a lakeside property such as Summerland Waterfront Resort Hotel
- Tour over 70 beautifully restored vintage vehicles at Nixdorf Classic Cars
- Go for a round of golf at picturesque Sumac Ridge or Summerland Golf and Country Club
Perched on the edge of Okanagan Lake and backdropped by rugged hills and mountains, Summerland is an awesome destination if you like outdoor adventure.
- Hike to the summit of Giant’s Head, a 850m extinct volcano and take in the wide reaching views of Summerland, Okanagan Lake, Naramata and the mountains beyond
- Camp at one of the rustic Recreation Sites on the Summerland-Princeton Road
- Head for the hills and go mountain biking – check for options and directions on TrailForks
- Paddle on Okanagan Lake – SUP, kayak and canoe rentals are available at Sun-Oka beach and Summerland Waterfront Resort
- Have a go at wakeboarding – lesson packages are available at Summerland Waterfront Resort
True to its name, Summerland is a wonderful place to be in summer. Make the most of the hot, dry weather with the following activities:
- Swim, sunbathe and picnic at one of Summerland’s gorgeous beaches – Peach Orchard, Rotary, Kinsmen, Powell Beach and Sun-Oka
- Visit roadside fruit stands and pick up fresh Okanagan cherries, peaches, nectarines, apples and more – Granny’s is a favourite
- Cruise Okanagan Lake with a rental boat, making sure to stop often for a swim!
- Take a ride on the historic Kettle Valley Steam Railway – the only remaining operating section of the KVR
- Cool down at the Summerland Millennium Spray Park (in Peach Orchard Park) with water cannons and 25 ground sprays
- Enjoy a beach fire on the superbly sunny shores of Sun-Oka Provincial Park (bring your own firewood)
Taste local produce
Summerland is located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, one of the best fruit growing regions in all of Canada.
- Tour Bottleneck Drive and discover 19 unique wineries, many family owned and operated
- Pick your own fresh, sweet Okanagan cherries at Dickinson Family Farm (they have RV camping too!)
- Sip farm to glass ciders at Dominion, Nomad, Summerland Heritage Cider Company and brand new Millionaires’ Row
- For something a little different, head to Alchemist Distiller or Detonate Brewing
- Enjoy the ambiance and cuisine at the beautiful and historic Zias Stonehouse Restaurant
- Shop the Summerland Sunday Market on Main Street (June to September, 9am to 1pm). There’s a Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays too (9am to 1pm)
- Shop for homemade gourmet jams, syrups, nut brittles and candies at Summerland Sweets
- Pick up some homegrown gourmet mushrooms at What the Fungus (purchase online in advance, farm pick up available on specific days only)
One of a kind events
Summerland’s annual events calendar features a number of unique races and celebrations. Here are just a few of my favourites for inspiration!
- Watch runners, walkers and cyclists climb 6.6km (500m elevation) from beach to peak at the Giants Head Grind Race (May)
- Cheer on the crazy competitors and their modified bathtub boats at the Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race (August)
- See gourds launched from a trebuchet at the annual Flamin’ Pumpkin Chunkin’ held at Saxon Winery (early November)
- Kick off the holiday season with Light up the Vines, a tasting event along Bottleneck Drive (late November)
- Enjoy fireworks, late night shopping, live music, street food and the Christmas light switch on at the downtown Festival of Lights (late November, replaced with Summerland Light Up for 2021)
Other things to do around Summerland (30km radius)
With such a central location and close proximity to Highway 97, Summerland is well within easy reach of so many other attractions in the Okanagan Valley. These are my top picks!
- Take a relaxing float on the Penticton River Channel between Okanagan and Skaha lakes
- Hike the ‘Little Tunnel’ section of the KVR Trail in Naramata (click for trail info)
- Paddle or boat across to Rattlesnake Island and discover its fascinating and unique history
- Visit the SS Sicamous, one of British Columbia’s last surviving paddle wheelers
- Bike all the way to Penticton on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail (around 40km return)
- Tour some of the 40+ wineries on the Naramata Bench, directly across the Okanagan Lake from Summerland
- Hike the Pincushion Mountain Trail in Peachland to reach spectacular valley and lake views
- Climb at Skaha Bluffs, one of Canada’s best sport climbing areas
- Browse Penticton’s Farmers’ Market, one of the largest in British Columbia (every Saturday, spring until fall, 9am-1pm)
- Paddle across to Okanagan Mountain Park and stay overnight at one of the marine campsites
- Visit the Penticton sign on Munson Mountain (the views are incredible too!)
- Go brewery hopping in Penticton – there are as many as six to choose from! (Click for full brewery guide)
- Walk Penticton’s Okanagan Lake promenade from the SS Sicamous to the Marina, via the iconic giant Peach, Kiwanis Walking Pier and the beautiful Ikeda Japanese Garden
- Sleep under the stars at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park (reservations recommended)
Still looking for things to do in Summerland? Read this post next:
73 Things to Do in Penticton and the Southern Okanagan, British Columbia
Where to stay in Summerland
Though a fairly small community, Summerland has a pretty varied range of accommodation.
My top pick is the Summerland Waterfront Resort and Spa. As the name suggests, the hotel is right on Okanagan Lake. All of the spacious rooms are suites with well equipped kitchens. Some suites have lake views. There’s a large seasonal pool or a beach within ten minutes walk.
Convenient and comfortable, the Rosedale Motel is ideal for budget conscious visitors. This motel also has a seasonal swimming pool.
A short drive into the hills behind Summerland is the Wildhorse Mountain Guest Ranch. There are hiking trails and horseriding opportunities right from the beautiful property. Breakfast is included with every stay.
Check out these other Okanagan Valley posts next:
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One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada